The Magic Sponge is a studio Group formed by West London Musician, songwriter and Brentford fan Perry Richards, comprising of Ex Furniture and Transglobal Underground Singer/musician/Producer Tim Whelan, guitarist George Pace, bassist Geoff Bonner with legendary producer-engineer and AngloCentric records Mainstay David M. Allen (The Cure, Human League, The Members) at the controls. They craft a soup of droll post-punk, soulful funk and artful electro that sifts through the detritus of living. Today we caught up with Perry Richards for our twenty questions:
Hi, how are you today..?
How did the band meet?
George ( guitar) and Geoff (bass) I knew them when they were still at school through my sister. We have played together in various bands ever since. I met Tim Whelan ( singer and keyboards) from going to see his band Furniture play. They are one of the most underrated bands from the 80’s most people only know “Brilliant Mind” but they left a catalogue of great songs. I always liked Tim’s voice so when I started the Sponge, I coerced him back into singing after Furniture, he had formed Transglobal Underground and gone back to keyboards. He also does the Blood Tub Orchestra.
Where does your band name come from?
I’m a big football fan, I still play it regularly and I’m a big Brentford F.C. and I always liked the magic sponge scenario, footballer lies prostrate on the ground slowly dying, then trainer comes on with bucket of water and sponge a few rubs with the sponge and hey presto, he gets up and runs like a greyhound. I also always associated magic sponge with the brain though Dave Allen associated it typically with a more intimate part of the male anatomy.
How do most of your songs start life?
I go round to Dave Allen’s studio with three songs, I put the chords down over a suitable beat and the sketch out the vocals, then the others come over and do their bits individually. Geoff, then Tim and then George. The sponge have never all been in the same room at the same time, who knows what would happen.
What inspires your songs?
I don’t write about sex and drugs and rock’n’roll, I leave that to the experts, or politics. I write about stuff that interests me, people I meet, and things I’m involved with like “I’m Addicted To eBay“, ”I Want To Be Your Best Facebook Friend”, “Peter Pan of Punk Rock”. I’m a big David Bowie fan so I wrote a song using his cutup method…I cut up all his songs to write “Song for David Jones”.
What was your first release?
The ‘Soaking Up The Waves of Life’, album five years ago.
Vinyl, CD, Download or Stream?
I obviously have a soft spot for Vinyl but I listen to most music in the car on CD.
What’s the best cover version you have ever heard?
I like cover versions that are very different from the original. I really like John Cale’s version of “Heartbreak Hotel“.
With the closure of so many venues and gentrification,do you think music venues needs to be protected?
Always sad to see well loved venues close down but that has always happened, all the places I used to see bands have gone,except the 100 club
What are your favourite local artists….
I’m in Chiswick in West London so they would be PJ and Duncan.
Tell us about your new EP?
Was it so good you were lost for words! Ha ha! Here’s a bit of information about the new EP.
Scattergun Shoots out on 1st April
New E.P from The Magic Sponge on JC Carroll’s smart phone label
Contains four pop songs which are completely diverse in content,sound and genre…hence Scattergun
Track one. Internet Worm – electro-pop track, it’s the first song that Dave Allen has released in over 35 years which I co-wrote with him and who sings it.
Track two. Sex Barons from Detroit – a slab of funk featuring Pete Haynes Esso from the Lurkers his take on the 70’s disco scene….
Track three. Mr Overlooked – an Elizabethan rock track about Robert Hook inventor/ architect from 17 th century.
Track four. Devil in the Detail – standard Sponge indie guitar track.
What’s it like working with super producer Dave Allen..?
It’s an absolute joy to work with him. He is very encouraging and always has good ideas and advice. Besides having an extensive knowledge of how music and sound works and how to arrange it in a satisfying order, he also makes a great cup of tea. He has worked with The Cure, Human League, The Mission etc,all the good,bad and ugly but the one thing he says about The Magic Sponge, that they are the most punctual.
I think we work well together as we both really like ‘pop’ and catchy hooks….i like interesting lyrical content and music as well but I like a musical ear worm.
What would be your dream collaboration?
Probably Peter Gabriel as even if he hated my stuff,he would be very polite about it.
If you weren’t doing this,what would you be doing?
I would like to be a dealer in artist’s letters/drawings and literary autographs the stuff I collect.
What five albums would you choose to take with you to a desert island?
Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie
Lamb Lies Down on Broadway – Genesis
Never mind the Bollocks – The Sex Pistols
Forever Changes – Love
Human Menagerie – Cockney Rebel
What’s the best record you heard recently?
I don’t claim to really have a pulse on the current music scene. My son who is 26, sends me stuff and I listen often to links on God Is In the TV.
My favourite two songs of recent years has been
My Heart Bleeds by Mickey Georgeson who is really David Devant and his Spirit Wife, and Sticks and Stones by The Trudy.
I never do politics on any social media, only face to face.
Are you playing any shows ?
No we don’t play live. We have all played in bands in the 80/90’s. It is just not practical. Tim lives in Paris and the others have full time jobs. We let the music speak for itself haha!
What are your future plans?
I have already put down the next four songs round Dave Allen’s studio. Geoff has done his bit so Tim is next line. I have another collaboration with Pete Haynes on his E.P as well.